Travel: Here's all you need to know about India's first premium cruise liner Karnika by Jalesh Cruises
On its second-ever voyage, India’s first premium cruise, Karnika by Jalesh Cruises, set sail to the Mumbai High Seas after an incredible star-studded naming ceremony. She created history and was just back from her maiden voyage to Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai when we joined Karnika. This 14-deck beauty in white docked at Ballard Estate was a majestic sight. But that’s not all! We were in for a pleasant surprise — apart from the stunning views of the pristine blue waters of the Arabian Sea, and the gorgeous amber setting sun, what we also witnessed was an unmatched spectacle and live shows, that’s rare even on our Indian shores.
The sea and the stars
There’s unfounded joy in staring at the sea from your balcony with not a single skyscraper or even a road till as far as your eyes can see. And that view is enjoyed best with chocolate-coated strawberries kept thoughtfully at our bedside. This was our chance to cut off from the world with nothing between us and the blue waters.
But before that, it was time to let our hair down at the launch party, which was graced by none other than the ravishing Bollywood diva Sushmita Sen, legendary sports stars Milkha Singh, Mahesh Bhupathi, Mary Kom and television bigwig Subhash Chandra. However, what stayed with us was singer Akriti Kakkar’s rendition of Never Enough from the American musical, The Greatest Showman! The ship was thus christened Karnika, after a popular celestial nymph from the Hindu myths.
Of food and fortune
We soon discovered though that there’s so much more we could do on the cruise, than just stare at picturesque views. We were told we must pay a visit to The Chairman’s Club. This part of the ship reminded us of the 1920’s American jazz bars with life-size black and white photos of glamorous ladies, a glistening black piano and an exquisitely done up bar area, which spells sophistication. If the rooms are minimalist, the reception, the Marquee Theatre and the restaurants are ostentatious. As far as diners go, there’s Indian cuisine at The Waterfront and Chef’s Table, and oriental delicacies served at Chopstix. A special mention for the desserts here at The Waterfront though. Their Gajar Ka Halwa would win you over.
As soon as we spotted a counter for Jain Cuisine, we thought how happy all our Jain friends back home would be for whom finding fitting meals during their travel is indeed a big source of trouble! As Jurgen Bailom, the chief executive officer of Jalesh Cruises, says, “We wouldn’t let you miss Indian food, we want to be your home away from home, at the sea.” But if grabbing a quick bite is on one’s mind, heading to one of the food courts is a faster option. After all, missing out on the entertainment that the ship has in store or a relaxing massage at their in-house Serena Spa isn’t a great idea. And in case, you are looking for an adrenaline rush on the high seas, do visit Deltin, Sea Casino located on the eighth deck of the ship for a quick game of Baccarat. If fortune favours, who knows you might end up richer than you were before you set sail!
Show me how you burlesque!
Karnika is all about so many interesting dichotomies when it comes to entertainment. There’s so much to choose that you might end up feeling like an overwhelmed kid in a candy store. There are stand-ups, magic shows, LEGO zones and fully-equipped play stations where you can smash aliens as you please, stellar acrobatic acts, and live music at most times of the day. The ’90s kid in me was elated to see British-Indian musician Bally Sagoo take over the console before we moved on to the Marquee Theatre for an edge-of-the-seat acrobatic show by acclaimed Australian troupe, Cameo Rascale, which at one point even involved juggling axes! However, we were most excited about the preview of the risqué burlesque show by a California-based dance troupe, Tease, Seduction at Sea, helmed by Douglas Johnson from The Entertainment Plus Productions Team and Robert Kerns. They promised to gives us a glimpse of Las Vegas nightlife and dance performances that will make you forget about the world outside. As the lights dimmed and Christina Aguilera’s Show Me How You Burlesque started playing, we had already begun tapping our feet! Lead vocalist and dancer, Hannah Brady, took over the stage along with the other dancers who used poles and chairs as props to deliver an unforgettable performance! The music spanned generations from Nancy Sinatra to Justin Timberlake, but there wasn’t a single dull moment during Tease.
If you are a lady who isn’t too shy, go up on the stage as they call for volunteers for your own Blair Waldorf moment! Remember when she says in Gossip Girl, that she’s got moves and takes to the burlesque stage? This was easily one of the best parts of the journey, apart from the rib-tickling session by stand-up comedian Papa CJ. His interactive comedy had everyone in splits. However, be warned these are not ‘family’ shows — if you have kids in tow, direct them towards Magician Tejas’s act. Just enjoy it, ’cause what happens at the Marquee, stays at the Marquee, apart from the memories of course!
Rs 7,700 onwards per person, per day.
Karnika will undertake 15 sailings for Mumbai-Goa-Mumbai and Mumbai-High Seas-Mumbai between April and mid-May 2019. (The writer was on the cruise by invitation.)